Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

It's almost time to go shopping...


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

121 Restaurant

I love everything about the Hudson Valley region.  The gorgeous hills, the crisp clean air and all of the wonderful restaurants that source their food directly from farms in the area.  121 Restaurant is one of these fine places and with the return of their chef Beck Bolender from Jean Georges this place is really hitting its stride.  Normally I would avoid any kind of Americanized empanada but not here...


...these were so buttery and crisp I almost didn't want to delve into the ham and cheese goodness in the middle.  They came with hot sauce and salsa verde but these didn't need anything...they were perfection on their own.  Instead I used the hot sauce on my incredible Breakfast Tacos filled with nuggets of crisp chorizo and fresh avocado.


And although this salad doesn't exactly look pretty it was awesome.  That long crust is actually filled with a creamy goat cheese fondue...


...mixed with bitter greens and a pear vinaigrette.   We were too full for dessert but a quick drink by the fireplace bar and I was ready to settle in for another round.  121 was delicious and definitely worth the hike up to North Salem.  

2 Dingle Ridge Road
North Salem, NY 10560

Monday, November 24, 2014

Return to Paulie Gee's

As 2014 winds down I start to think about all the incredible bars and restaurants I've enjoyed over the past year and surprisingly one of my favorites from 2013 keeps on popping up in my head- Paulie Gee's. This Greenpoint pizzeria is simply amazing.  The puffy chewy crust, the fresh herbs and incredible toppings...here's some glamour shots from our last visit.  When I look at this picture all I think is YES, YES, YES!!!  


This is the Hell Boy and it my be my favorite pizza in the world.  Fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, sopresetta piccante and parmigiana reggiano all drizzled with Mike's Hot Honey.  It's spicy and sweet...one piece is never enough. I truly think I could eat this whole pie if no one was looking. 


Mr. T likes the Ricotta Be Kiddin' Me made with Canadian bacon, sweet Italian fennel sausage, fresh basil and dollops of ricotta.  You really can't go wrong with any of the pies here...Paulie Gee's is where its at.

Paulie Gee's
60 Greenpoint Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11222

Friday, November 21, 2014

New Brew Friday- A Special SARA Edition

Today's beer comes from Sante Adairius Rustic Ales, a tiny brewery located just south of Santa Cruz. SARA specializes in Belgian ales, usually aged in some sort of wine barrel with various yeast and bacteria.  I was lucky enough to try out Brackish, a Dark Farmhouse Ale brewed with grains of paradise and sea salt.


Brackish has a spicy herbal aroma with lots of dark berries, lemon zest and black pepper. The taste is just crazy...it's salty like a Gose but with tart berries, oak, chocolate and roasted malts.   This is one of those beers where each sip brings out a new flavor. I absolutely LOVED this beer. Unfortunately it's only been brewed once so if you get a chance to try this beauty enjoy it to the fullest because you probably won't see it again- Cheers!

Sante Adairius Rustic Ales

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Chocolate Cake at Gramercy Tavern

Ever since Nancy Olson left as Gramercy Tavern's pastry chef, I feel the need to stop in once in a while and ensure that things are still running smoothly.  This springy Chocolate Cake with Concord Compote, Buckwheat and Toasted Almond Ice Cream is a clear indication that things are on track...



....paired with a creamy Founders Porter for extra dessert bliss :)

Gramercy Tavern
42 East 20th Street
New York, NY 10003

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Beer Events!!!

November is always a big month for beer drinking.  Between Thanksgiving, the heart of football season and just the fact that it's dark at 5:00; these are all good reasons to settle into a nice frothy beverage.  Plus it's the month three of my favorite places have incredible events going on:

Blind Tiger- VSK


Tomorrow is Blind Tigers annual Very Special Keg where they ransack the cellar for some incredibly rare and tasty treats.  I've been coming to this bar for over 12 years now and can tell you that this is one hell of an event.  The list this year includes Cantillon Iris, Founders KBS, Hill Farmstead Anna and Firestone Walker Parabola just to name a few.   Plus there's always a surprise or two waiting in the wings.  Just beware if your not a big fan of crowds then you may want to sit this one out and come say hello to the wonderful Tiger family another day.  


One Mile House- 3rd Anniversary


It's hard for me to believe that One Mile House is only 3 years old.  I feel like I've been coming to this bar all my life!  They have great food, wonderful staff and always a fantastic beer list.  Thursday's line up includes Westbrook Mexican Cake,  Omnipollo Nebachunezzer and a whole slew of hard to find locals like Sixpoint Barrel Aged 3 Beans and Finback Barrel Aged BQE.  Come out and say congratulations to Gerard and the crew!

Hops Hill- Imperial Stout Night

It may be one of the newest craft beer bars in Brooklyn but this cozy place already has a steady following of loyal customers due to a great beer selection and knowledgeable bar staff.  The draft list for Imperial Stout night is still coming together but so far it's looking pretty phenomenal. If you needed an excuse to check this new place out here it is:

  • Evil Twin Imperial Biscotti Break Natale
  • Prairie Bomb
  • Prairie Christmas Bomb
  • Oskar Blues TenFidy
  • Two Roads Unorthodox Russian Imperial Stout
  • Evil Twin Doughnut Break
  • Captain Lawrence Frost Monster Imperial Stout
  • Off Color Dino'Smores
  • Barrier Morticia Russian Imperial Stout
Cheers to a beery November!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Florian

The newest restaurant to grace 225 Park Avenue South has finally moved in- Florian.  This cafe, trattoria and bar is part of the Fireman Hospitality Group who own Fiorello, Brooklyn Diner and Redye Grill.  The space has been completely redone into a sleek, shiny restaurant with an antipasti bar, homemade pastas and an enormous statue of a woman called "Miss Hospitality" behind the bar.  



The menu has something for just about anyone from a creamy Eggplant Parmigiana to a hefty Osso Buco. I went straight for the cheese; Burrata with roasted carrots, green onion and peas.



There's little in life more glorious than a fresh mound of burrata but the roasted carrots and green onions added a sweet,smoky flavor that I actually found myself enjoying much more than my usual burrata/prosciutto di parma pairing.




Thin crust pizzas continue to be the rage across the city. The texture here is more like a baked tortilla than a cracker with rich parmigiana cheese melted on top, ribbons of prosciutto cotto and small dollops of ricotta cheese.


I was too full to sample the rest of the menu but I will definitely be back.  Florian has a three course prix fix lunch that looks fantastic  and an entire page devoted to vegetarian options.  This is a welcome new spot for the neighborhood.

Florian
225 Park Avenue South @19th Street
New York, NY 10003

Friday, November 14, 2014

New Brew Friday- Hill Farmstead Anna

It's time to check out another great beer from Vermont...Anna from Hill Farmstead.




This is a Biere de Miel (honey beer) made with raw wildflower Vermont honey and their house Saison yeast.  It's got a thick foamy white head that slowly dissipates leaving a lovely lacing on the glass.  There are soft flavors of lemon, honey and citrus with such a dry refreshing finish I could seriously see myself drinking this all day.  Hill Farmstead has this on tap around the city right now so try and find yourself a glass while you can.

Hill Farmstead

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Malt & Mold Gramercy

I'm so excited...one of my favorite shops from the Lower East Side has just opened up a new location right in my neighborhood- Malt & Mold!  



This space is slightly larger than the original which means there's even more to love.  They have a great selection of bottles including old favorites from Founders, The Bruery and Firestone Walker plus brand new brews to the NYC distribution scene like Logsdon and Almanac.  Not to mention beers on draft...



Just like the original location there are 8 beers available for growler fills but Gramercy steps it up a notch with adding a liquor license.  Now you can hang out and have a few drinks instead of just grabbing stuff to go.


I recommend trying a glass of something local like Third Rail Bodega or Grimm Still Life then shopping around.   There's a nice selection of specialty food items and the owner Kevin knows just as much about cheese as he does beer so ask for some recommendations and bring home a whole spread of gourmet treats. 

2nd Avenue between 21st & 22nd Street
New York, NY

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Lunch at Blenhiem

Blenheim is one of the newest farm-to-table restaurants on the block, taking over the Smorgas Chef space in the West Village.  I absolutely loved the decor inside...smooth shiny concrete tabletops, fresh flowers around the room and big windows up front just perfect for people watching.



It was cozy and minimalist; perfect for a pleasing aesthetic but perhaps a bit too one note when it came to food options.  The menu is small...really small...with only four entrees.



The Short Rib and Bread Pudding sounded too heavy for lunch and I've never been a huge Ploughman fan.  The Omelet would have been my choice but I had eggs for breakfast that day so I ended up with an appetizer of Mizuna Greens.


Big hunks of smoked blue cheese studded the greens with sliced apples and trout roe on top.  It was a nice blend of salty, stinky and sweet but the blue cheese was so overpowering I found myself reaching for the bread and butter constantly to quell the richness of the dish.


With such a limited menu it will be very interesting to see how Blenheim fares in the coming months.  The restaurant was only about a quarter full when I dined...not the best sign for the hopping West Village area.

Blenheim Restaurant

283 West 12th Street @ West 4th
New York, NY 10014

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Pickle Shack

There are so many reasons to stop by The Pickle Shack in Park Slope...let's start with the drinks.  The draft list is always filled with greats from Dogfish Head like the classic 60 Minute IPA to the more elusive Bitches Brew and 120 Minute.  The bottle list contains even more gems; my last visit they had both Westbrook Mexican Cake and Alesmith Decadence.   Plus a whole slew of incredible food options...all of them vegetarian and all seriously delicious. Like the Breakfast Sandwich made with fresh farm eggs scrambled with aged cheddar, avocado, arugula salad and hot sauce.



Good lord the eggs here are perfect.  Softly scrambled with just a sprinkle of herbs layered on top of thick fluffy bread.   It's so big you'll require two hands to chow down and don't forget to slather on some of that hot sauce.  Not a fan of beer or pickles- no problem!  The Pickle Shack has a ton of wine and cider options and just about everything can be ordered sans gherkin (still meat free but also pickle free).  It's a great place to grab a quick bite and enjoy the back patio before the chilly winter months arrive.

The Pickle Shack
256 4th Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11215

Friday, November 7, 2014

Marta

Danny Meyer's newest darling Marta has been getting a lot of press lately.  The wait time for dinner reaches epic proportions so I decided to stop in on an off hour... about 4:55 PM on a Monday. Just about any restaurant in Manhattan would be dead at this hour but Marta was easily over 50% capacity.



Possibly it was the guests of the Martha Washington Hotel eating an early supper or maybe just the fact that pizza is good just about any time of day.



I took a seat at the bar overlooking the open kitchen...perfect for watching all those pizzas get churned out...


...not to mention the grilled meat on the open grill to the left.  Just be warned it becomes an incredibly hot seat.  The pizza is menu is divided into two categories Rosso & Bianche.  This is perfect for those people who love a good pie but loathe that tomato sauce.


I always start with the basics my first time at a new pizza joint although I went a slight step above here with the Margherita Di Bufala .


This pizza is similar to Di Fara's in that they add fresh basil on top and a drizzle of olive oil right at the end.  The similaties end there however where DiFara's is more of a classic pie this is done in the rustic tradition of a Roman pizzeria with an ultra thin, crackly crust that gives no bend at all. Just try to fold this pizza in half...you'll just hear one loud crack.



I'm  huge fan of the cracker crust...it was easily the best part of the pizza for me.  While all of the other ingredients were fresh and tasty it wasn't anything outstanding that would warrent a long wait in line.  However it is a damn good pie.


One of the most amazing things I noticed during my meal wasn't only the well appointed beer list Marta had but how many poeple in the resturant were all drinking the same thing.  Westbrook Gose was sitting at almost every table. This style of beer was virtually extinct three years ago so to see so many people enjoying it was really awesome.  Big props to Danny Meyer for continuing to have such a progressive beer list at all of his establishments. 

29 East 29th St. btw. Madison and Park Avenue
New York, NY10016

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

A Stop Back at My Old Favorite Otto

There's only  a few places in NYC that just make me feel all happy and cozy inside...like getting a big warm hug.  Otto happens to be one of these places.  The long marble bar is the perfect spot to dine, the bartenders always seem to know exactly what your in the mood for be a  spicy Chianti or a crisp glass of Prosecco.



Of course the perfect thing with a little vino is some meat and cheese.  Just look at these glorious slices of prosciutto...



...and our trio of formaggi.  The bright grassy Muffato, a cow's milk blue covered in hay, chamomile and mint aged in oak barrels for 4 months; Ubriaco the drunken cheese named for the gallons of Prosecco it's bathed in during production and a classic creamy Ricotta....perfect on it's own but best when mixed with a little bit of cherry and honey.



Ordering a salad at Otto is a must....my absolute favorite being the Baby Spinach with ricotta salata and truffle honey.



It's a fantastic medley of creamy, bitter and sweet.  Ahhhh Otto....you will always be my happy place.

Otto Pizzeria
1 5th Avenue @ 8th Street
New York, NY 10003

Monday, November 3, 2014

Star Chef's Congress Day III

The third and final day of the Congress was my absolute favorite.  I started outside in the sun at the Southern Pride BBQ tent.  Aaron Siegel of Fiery Ron's Home Team BBQ was smoking some Chicken Wings with Alabama white sauce.




Wow this was a perfect BBQ wing...super moist chicken meat, intense smoky rub with just a hint of spice playing off the creamy sauce. The woman to my left at the table claimed it to be a life changing wing...she really wasn't far off at all- it was fantastic.  


Inside the EAT@ICC was a full on New York City showcase.


Brooklyn showed up strong with great plates like Country Ham Biscuit with fig jam, Grafton cheddar and cheese grits from Evan Hanczor of Egg.


Smoked Bluefish, uni, celeriac, apple and rye from Aaron Lefkove and Andy Curtin of Littleneck...


...and Brisket Pibli from Mike Poiarkoff of Vinegar Hill House



The Oxtail Dumpling with Green Apple Curry and Taro Root from "JJ" Johnson of The Cecil was the perfect medley of rich, sweet flavors in one glorious bite...


...and the Korean-style Mussels from Joe Isidori of brand new Chalk Point Kitchen were amazing. This place has moved to the top of my must-do list after tasting this dish.


Of course the were an array of sweets like the sinful Frozen Mud Pies from Dana Creed of Blackbird in Chicago...that crisp outer cookie shell was impossible to resist.


I also spent a good amount of time sampling the chocolate from Valrhona Chocolate Bar because let's not lie... a table like this is my absolute dream.


The afternoon was filled with presentations from the great Grant Achatz of Alinea and Enrique Olerva from NYC's hottest new restaurant Cosme.


And I had just enough time to slip in one more seminar before heading out.  Dare to Pair: Costieres De Nimes and Charcuterie...a fantastic pairing given by Alex LaPratt whose been sommelier at some incredible restaurants like French Laundry, Jean Georges and Atrium to name just a few.  

It was a jam packed three days of exciting culinary displays, great food and wonderful people.  This year's Congress may just be the best one yet...is it time to start getting ready for next year yet?